The woolly wolf Canis lupus chanco is increasingly being accepted as a unique taxon that needs immediate protection and management; however, information on its ecology remains limited across its range. We used camera trapping data set of 4 years (2015–2019) to investigate seasonal activity patterns and space use and assessed woolly wolf food habits in the Gangotri National Park, western Himalaya, India. We used generalized linear mixed models to assess the distribution of the wolf about prey, seasonal livestock grazing, human presence, habitat, and seasons. We observed a positive association with elevation and a negative response to an increase in ruggedness. The capture of wolves increased in winters, indicating a possible effect of snow on the ranging pattern. Spatial avoidance to anthropogenic pressure was not evident in our study; however, temporal avoidance was observed. The activity pattern of the wolf varied among seasons. Wolves were mostly active in the morning and late evening hours in summer and showed a diurnal activity pattern in winter. A less diverse diet was observed where the mean percentage frequency of occurrence and relative biomass was highest for bharal, followed by livestock. Himalayan marmot Marmota himalayana, birds, and rodents also form minor constituents to the diet. Synthesizing all three factors (space, diet, and activity), it may be stated that the wolf presence in the region is influenced by both wild prey availability and seasonality. Therefore, conservation of woolly wolves would require securing a vast landscape with optimal wild prey.
Many organizations are attempting to scale ecoacoustic monitoring for conservation but are hampered at the stages of data management and analysis. We reviewed current ecoacoustic hardware, software, and standards, and conducted workshops with 23 participants across 10 organizations in Australia to learn about their current practices, and to identify key trends and challenges in their use of ecoacoustics data. We found no existing metadata schemas that contain enough ecoacoustics terms for current practice, and no standard approaches to annotation. There was a strong need for free acoustics data storage, discoverable learning resources, and interoperability with other ecological modeling tools. In parallel, there were tensions regarding intellectual property management, and siloed approaches to studying species within organizations across different regions and between organizations doing similar work. This research contributes directly to the development of an open ecoacoustics platform to enable the sharing of data, analyses, and tools for environmental conservation.
The Colorado potato beetle (CPB), scientifically known as Leptinotarsa decemlineata, is a destructive quarantine pest that has invaded more than 40 countries and regions worldwide. It causes a 20–100% reduction in plant production, leading to severe economic losses. Picromerus bidens L. is a predatory insect that preys on CPB. This study used the MaxEnt model to predict the current and future potential distribution areas of CPB and P. bidens under different climatic scenarios to determine the possibility of using P. bidens as a natural enemy to control CPB. The possible introduction routes of CPB and P. bidens were subsequently predicted by combining their potential distribution with the current distribution of airports and ports. Notably, the potential distribution area of P. bidens was similar to that of CPB, suggesting that P. bidens could be used as a natural enemy to control CPB. Future changes in the suitable growth areas of CPB under different climate scenarios increased and decreased but were insignificant, while those of P. bidens decreased. Consequently, a reduction of the suitable habitats of P. bidens may cause a decrease in its population density, leading to a lack of adequate and timely prevention and control of invasive pests. Active measures should thus be enacted to minimize global warming and protect biodiversity. This study provides a theoretical basis and data support for early warning, monitoring, and control of the CPB spread.
Ability to efficiently localize productive foraging habitat is crucial for nesting success of insectivorous birds. Some bird species can use olfaction to identify caterpillar-infested trees by detection of herbivore induced plant volatiles (HIPVs), but these cues probably need to be learned. So far, we know very little about the process of olfactory learning in birds, whether insectivorous species have a predisposition for detecting and learning HIPVs, due to the high ecological significance of these odors, and how olfaction is integrated with vision in making foraging decisions. In a standardized setup, we tested whether 35 wild-caught great tits (Parus major) show any preference for widely abundant HIPVs compared to neutral (non-induced) plant odors, how fast they learn to associate olfactory, visual and multimodal foraging cues with food, and whether the olfactory preferences and learning speed were influenced by bird sex or habitat (urban or rural). We also tested how fast birds switch to a new cue of the same modality. Great tits showed no initial preference for HIPVs compared to neutral odors, and they learned all olfactory cues at a similar pace, except for methyl salicylate (MeSA), which they learned more slowly. We also found no differences in learning speeds between visual, olfactory and multimodal foraging cues, but birds learned the second cue they were offered faster than the first one. Bird sex or habitat had no effect on learning speed or olfactory preference, but urban birds tended to learn visual cues more slowly. We conclude that insectivorous birds utilize olfactory and visual cues with similar efficiency in foraging, and that they probably don‘t have any special predisposition toward the tested HIPVs. These results confirm that great tits are flexible foragers with good learning abilities.
Avian brood parasites lay their eggs into the nests of other species, which incubate them and raise the chicks until their independence. Despite living their early weeks of life surrounded by heterospecifics, young brood parasites have the ability to recognize and associate to conspecifics after independence. It has been proposed that the initial conspecific recognition develops when a young parasite encounters a unique species-specific signal that triggers the learning of other aspects of the producer of the signal. For cowbirds (Molothrus spp.), this species-specific signal is hypothesized to be the chatter call. Young birds also could express auditory biases, which in some cases lead to discrimination in favor of conspecific songs. Therefore, the perceptual selectivity for chatters might be also present in nestlings. Our aim was to assess if nestlings of the shiny cowbird (M. bonariensis) present a preferential begging response to conspecific chatter calls. We evaluated if they respond more to the parasitic vocalization than host chicks and if they respond more to the chatter than to heterospecific nonhost calls. We tested shiny cowbird chicks reared by chalk-browed mockingbirds (Mimus saturninus) or house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) and host chicks, as control species. We randomly presented to 6-day-old chicks the following playback treatments: (1) conspecific chatter calls, (2) host calls, used as positive controls, and (3) nonhost calls, used as negative control. We measured if chicks begged during the playback treatments and the begging intensity. When responding to the playback of chatter calls, shiny cowbird chicks begged at a higher frequency and more intensively than host chicks. Shiny cowbird chicks reared by mockingbirds begged more intensively to playbacks of conspecific chatter calls than to host calls, while those reared by wrens begged with a similar intensity to playbacks of conspecific chatter and host calls. On the contrary, wren nestlings begged more intensively to playbacks of the wren call than to chatter calls. Mockingbird nestlings did not beg during any treatment. None of the three species begged during the playback of nonhost calls. Our results show that the chatter call produced a preferential begging response in cowbird nestlings, which may be the beginning of a process of conspecific recognition.
Watershed land-use changes have been identified as major threats to lake fauna, subsequently affecting ecosystem functioning. In this study, the functional-based approach was used to examine the effects of land use and environmental changes on phytoplankton communities in four selected lakes in Northeast China. We also identified the sensitive functional traits as indicators of environmental stressors. The integration of RLQ analysis with the fourth-corner approach significantly identified five of 18 functional trait categories, including flagella, filamentous, unicellular, mixotrophic, and chlorophyll c, as potential indicators to changes in watershed land-use intensity and environmental gradients. Significant relationships between traits and land use and water quality highlighted the consequential indirect impact of extensive agricultural and urban development on phytoplankton via allochthonous nutrient inputs and various contaminants. In addition, the functional richness of phytoplankton assemblages generally increased along with surface area and forests, but decreased along with intensive agricultural and urban land use, implying that functional homogenization may cause a reduction in ecosystem productivity and reliability to land-use intensity. Given the superior performance of the functional-based approach, our findings also highlighted the importance of the application of both the biological traits and functional diversity index in monitoring programs for lake ecosystems.
Soil microorganisms play the important role in driving biogeochemical cycles. However, it is still unclear on soil microbial community characteristics and microbial driving mechanism in rhizosphere and bulk soils of different halophyte species. In this study, we analyzed bacterial communities in the rhizosphere and bulk soils of three typical halophytes in the Yellow River Delta, i.e., Phragmites communis, Suaeda salsa, and Aeluropus sinensis, by high-throughput sequencing. The contents of total carbon, total nitrogen, and available phosphorus in rhizosphere soils of the three halophytes were significantly higher than those in bulk soils, which suggested a nutrient enrichment effect of the rhizosphere. Rhizosphere soil bacterial α-diversity of P. communis was higher than that in bulk soil, whereas bacterial α-diversity in rhizosphere soil of S. salsa and A. sinensis was lower than those in bulk soil. The dominant bacterial phyla were Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, and Bacteroidetes, which accounted for 31, 20.5, 16.3, and 10.3%, respectively. LDA effect size (LEfSe) analysis showed that the bacterial species with significant differences in expression abundance was obviously different in the rhizosphere and bulk soil of three halophytes. The principal component analysis (PCoA) showed that bacterial community composition was greatly different between rhizosphere and bulk soils of P. communis and S. salsa, while no difference in A. sinensis. Changed bacterial community composition was mainly ascribed to salinity in rhizosphere and bulk soils. Additionally, salinity was positively correlated with Bacteroidetes and negatively correlated with Actinobacteria and Acidobacteria. Our study clarified the variation in bacterial community structure between rhizosphere and bulk soils with soil physicochemical properties, which proved a biological reference to indicate the characteristics of saline and alkaline land.
Inducible defenses are a wide-spread defensive mechanism in Daphnia. For example, D. cucullata is known to form different adaptive morphologies under changing environmental conditions. In this species, predator presence elicits defensive helmets. Defended animals perform better and survive more frequently in predation attempts. Another peculiarity of D. cucullata is that they develop these defenses also in response to turbulence. The mechanisms that underly this defensive effect are so far unclear. Therefore, we investigated the three-dimensional morphology of the typical, the turbulence- and Chaoborus-exposed morph and analyzed their surface and volume alterations. We furthermore measured the swimming velocities of these morphs. With the determined shapes and the measured velocities, we simulated the drag force under different angles of attack and determined the energy necessary to move through the water. In the light of previous findings and hypotheses we here discuss biomechanical mechanisms that improve D. cucullata’s fitness in the investigated environments.
Paleoecological investigation of two montane lakes in the Kootenay region of southeast British Columbia, Canada, reveal changes in vegetation in response to climate and fire throughout the Holocene. Pollen, charcoal, and lake sediment carbon accumulation rate analyses show seven distinct zones at Marion Lake, presently in the subalpine Engelmann Spruce-Subalpine Fir (ESSF) biogeoclimatic (BEC) zone of Kootenay Valley, British Columbia. Comparison of these records to nearby Dog Lake of Kootenay National Park of Canada in the Montane Spruce (MS) BEC zone of Kootenay Valley, British Columbia reveals unique responses of ecosystems in topographically complex regions. The two most dramatic shifts in vegetation at Marion Lake occur firstly in the early Holocene/late Pleistocene in ML Zone 3 (11,010–10,180 cal. yr. B.P.) possibly reflecting Younger Dryas Chronozone cooling followed by early Holocene xerothermic warming noted by the increased presence of the dry adapted conifer, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and increasing fire frequency. The second most prominent change occurred at the transition from ML Zone 5 through 6a (∼2,500 cal. yr. B.P.). This zone transitions from a warmer to a cooler/wetter climate as indicated by the increase in western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and subsequent drop in fire frequency. The overall cooling trend and reduction in fire frequency appears to have occurred ∼700 years later than at Dog Lake (∼43 km to the south and 80 m lower in elevation), resulting in a closed montane spruce forest, whereas Marion Lake developed into a subalpine ecosystem. The temporal and ecological differences between the two study sites likely reflects the particular climate threshold needed to move these ecosystems from developed forests to subalpine conditions, as well as local site climate and fire conditions. These paleoecological records indicate future warming may result in the MS transitioning into an Interior Douglas Fir (IDF) dominated landscape, while the ESSF may become more forested, similar to the modern MS, or develop into a grassland-like landscape dependent on fire frequency. These results indicate that climate and disturbance over a regional area can dictate very different localized vegetative states. Local management implications of these dynamic landscapes will need to understand how ecosystems respond to climate and disturbance at the local or ecosystem/habitat scale.